Ordway Stresses US Armenia Relations Unaffected

YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Yerkir)–Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday–US Ambassador to Armenia John Ordway stressed that although the United States stands by its view that President Robert Kocharian’s reelection fell short of democratic standards–it will–nevertheless–maintain and even seek to deepen a "long-term relationship" with his administration–in continuing its long-term cooperation program with the Armenian Government and assistance to help establish civil society and democracy.

"We will continue to pursue that agenda and our joint interests in Armenia–in the region and in the world," he said. "We will do that with the authorities–with President Kocharian in the years ahead–as we have in the past several years."

"It’s not our purpose or our role to increase the burden and make the problem of dealing with the flaws in this election any worse than it already is," he said. "So for our part–we are going to continue the bilateral relationship and we are going to strive to improve it."

"The fact that you don’t succeed–that you have something that doesn’t come up to what you expect doesn’t mean you pack up your bags and go home. It means that you get down and you work even harder. And that’s what we are going to do."

Ordway said that a large part of American money will continue to be spent to promote political reform in Armenia. "I don’t think there will be any major shifts in the overall thrust and direction of our program here,"

"I said before the election that Armenia has all the capacities to conduct elections that would meet international standards. It did not happen," Ordway said. He added that perhaps because expectations were high–disappointment–as a result–was significant.

He suggested that recounts held in presence of OSCE/PACE monitors–as well as holding accountable those responsible for irregularities–would restore public confidence in elections.

John Ordway has met with the Central Election Commission (CEC) chairman Artak Sahradian to discuss ways to bring the election processes to international standards.

Ordway disclosed that the US will not seek "punishment" for Armenia as it believes Armenia’s will bear "the main cost and burden of dealing with the outcome of an election that did not meet international standards." He also stressed that the opposition should act within the law and peacefully in voicing their disagreement with the outcome of elections.

Speaking of the possible impact of the election on the Karabagh regulation process–the Ambassador said that the US would continue to assist in the Karabagh conflict regulation process. "The elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan delayed the talks process. Today it is hard to speak of the date the talks might resume because the talk process is a complicated one–and concessions are expected form both sides."

Responding to a reporter’s inquiries about news of arrests of anti war protesters in the US–Ordway said that though he is not aware of such cases–democratic countries ensure the right of citizens to protest–and violations of public order may occur during these protests.

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